Challenges galore as BJP president Nadda plans to embark on 100-day nationwide yatra

Nadda's 100-day yatra seeks to explore new avenues and allies but challenges persist
Last Updated 19 November 2020, 01:16 IST

With victory secured in Bihar Assembly polls, which has 40 Lok Sabha seats, and BJP-dominated alliance firmly in the saddle there, BJP chief J P Nadda has set his eyes on strengthening the party nationally with particular focus on Uttar Pradesh with 80 Lok Sabha seats and state polls due in 2022, and West Bengal with 42 Lok Sabha seats, where the state polls is due in 2021.

Dates of the proposed yatra are yet to be finalised but Nadda, in whose tenure as party chief, the party won the only state election held in Bihar, will be embarking on a 100-day ‘Rashtriya Vistrit Pravas’ throughout the country, spending a maximum of eight days in UP, where it faces the challenge of repeating its 2017 electoral performance when it had won the state with more than a two-third majority decimating SP-Congress alliance and BSP in one go.

BJP lost Delhi days after Nadda had taken over as the party chief from Amit Shah but the change of hands had happened in the middle of the poll campaign. Hence, truly speaking, the Assembly election of Bihar and the bypolls in 10 states, including in Madhya Pradesh, were the first electoral test for Nadda as party chief and he has come out with flying colours in both.

Now with a new team of party office bearers and in-charges in states announced last week, Nadda has to surmount the challenges, and live up to the high expectations set by Shah's tenure.

BJP has lost ally after ally since Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP came to power in 2014 with 29 coalitions.

Allies which are now out of NDA are Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab, TDP in Andhra Pradesh, PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party in Bihar, Om Prakash Rajbhar-led Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party in UP. On Tuesday, BJP announced that it will have no tie-up with Bodoland People's Front In Assam in 2021 state polls.

There are also uncertainties about the fate of Lok Janshakti Party, which fought elections in Bihar against NDA. BJP's earlier attempt to forge an alliance with AIADMK in Tamil Nadu has also got into rough weather over the issue of 'Vetrivel Yatra'.

The only state in South India where the BJP is in power in Karnataka. But the state's Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's age factor could prove troublesome for the party in the future.

In the Northeast, the BJP's influence grew since its 2016 victory in Assam but an apparent faulty implementation of NRC in the state has created much heart-burns for it and 2021 state polls could be a tough ball game.

During Nadda's yatra, the BJP will seek to rope in new partners and work out a strategy in new areas of influence and take corrective measures to win those seats which it lost in 2019. Among the states, Odisha, where it was once the ally of the ruling BJD and now the main Opposition party, the BJP has high hopes to increase its tally in the Lok Sabha election 2024.

Addressing party workers in Odisha on Tuesday while inaugurating six new district BJP offices in the state through video conferencing, a buoyant Nadda talked of BJP's victory show in Bihar polls and assembly bypolls in 59 seats in 10 states and particularly how BJP's "victory rate in Bihar was best".

"In Odisha Assembly elections, BJP's vote share has gone up from 18 per cent to 32 per cent, which clearly indicates that BJP is very close to its goal of forming a government in Odisha," a beaming Nadda said.

The 100-day yatra will be the first political tour of such a long tenure by any BJP president undertaken in the last few years. Yatra politics is not new to BJP.

It was L K Advani's 'Rath Yatra' in the nineties that is credited for catapulting BJP into the prime political slot in the country. In 1992, Murali Manohar Joshi had taken 'Ekta Yatra' which had culminated in the hoisting of the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar amid tight security.

Before the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Advani had taken a 33-day 'Bharat Uday Yatra' straddling 8000 kilometre across the nation connected through the Golden Quadrilateral Highways built by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Former BJP president Amit Shah had taken a two-week-long Jan Raksha Yatra in Kerala in October 2017 to highlight the political killing of party workers in the Left-ruled state. In 2018, Shah had launched a "save democracy" Rath Yatra in West Bengal.

But Nadda's yatra has more long term objectives aimed at expanding through reach-out to new voters and new allies. He will be meeting party representatives and intellectuals, the local functionaries of RSS in the regions, discuss the possibilities of new coalitions for the BJP, improve communications between senior leaders of BJP and allies in the states and discuss a strategy to improve the BJP's state governments to blunt anti-incumbency.

Nadda's duration in the states will depend on their categories-- A, B, C D categories---the states ruled by BJP alone or in an alliance, key states ruled by other parties, small states and the most important are those which are going to polls next year--Kerala, West Bengal, Assam, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.

(Published 18 November 2020, 15:50 IST)

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